Why You’re Looking at “Time” the Wrong Way

8.23.16 Saving Time (Blog)

We have a funny relationship with time.

When we don’t have enough, we desperately wish we could find more.

When we have too much, we get impatient.

But ask someone “What is your time worth?” and you’ll get conflicting answers.

Entrepreneurs are willing to spend hours on social media, giving away their work for free or banging their heads against the wall launching marketing campaigns that result in zero new sales.

But ask them to spend the time required to make those activities count? Um, sorry. Too busy. Kids. Clients. Launches. Busy work. Errands.

And I’m looking in the mirror here, friend. I do it, too.

Your time is valuable. And that means that sometimes you have to invest it wisely.

Here’s the thing:

If you take a step back and spend the time putting together your brand strategy, getting super clear on your audience and message, developing valuable content, engaging your tribe before selling to them and building a strong foundation, guess what can happen?

You will do less marketing and achieve better results
You will be more consistent and memorable to your audience
You can get better results from fewer marketing tactics
You will stop getting overwhelmed by thousands of decisions
You will stand out from the competition
Your Facebook ads will convert better
Your events will sell out
Your client docket will fill up
Your products will sell
Your message will be heard
You will engage a raving fan base who will hang on your every word
You will win an Oscar! (OK, maybe that’s just in my own fantasy)

Assuming you deliver a quality product or service that people need, of course.

TOUGH LOVE TIME: Please stop wasting your valuable time. Right now. This minute. (TWEET THIS!)

You may think 12 months is too long to master your brand and marketing and slay your overwhelm in my MOMENTUM program.

“Ugh, really? That’s such a long time. I’ve got things to do! Do I have to?”

No, you don’t. You are free to keep spending your valuable time engaging in “random acts of marketing” that don’t work or result in sales.

Or you can spend 12 months with me to build a strong brand strategy and marketing foundation, brick by brick, step by step – all while still taking action each week – so that your precious time (and money) GETS RESULTS.

I’m in a one-year course with this format right now and I LOVE IT. When I’m busy, I just skip the week’s assignment and file it for another time. You can do the same with MOMENTUM. But always, the focus and support keep me moving forward.

You know. It helps me keep MOMENTUM!

We all need to get things done.  But if you want those efforts to be more effective, if you want to engage your audience, end your overwhelm and do more with less, please don’t skip this crucial step.

Make the time, even if it’s not with me.

But, c’mon how much fun will this be?! I invite you to join us in MOMENTUM for a year and see what happens.

I dare you!


Image Credit via Flickr

How Do You Learn Best? (Free Sample!)

How do you learn best?

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

You bought a digital course for $79. Once you downloaded the files, you never looked at them again.

You went through a week-long, self-guided course and devoted yourself to completing the lessons. And you never did anything with the advice.

You signed up for a four-week workshop and attended every class religiously. You still have your intended actions lying in a notebook somewhere. Actions that you never took.

Yep. All happened to me.

Look, we’re all busy. And I’ve been seduced by the quick-fix promises just like everyone else.

But let’s be real: How many times have your learnings and good intentions simply ended up in a file on your laptop, never to be referenced again?

Finding the right training format to master your marketing and build your business just depends on what you’re trying to learn and which needs you’re trying to meet.

How to set up your Facebook brand page? Maybe a video tutorial is fine.

How to consistently prioritize and build your self-confidence? Maybe you need months of live coaching sessions before you can get there and make real, lasting change.

Before you invest, ask yourself: What is it that I really need in order to achieve my goals, to have an impact? And what format would work best?

Do you need a quick answer, for someone to share all the information with you at once so you can run with it by yourself? Good for you, DIY-er.

Or do you need ongoing accountability and motivation? If you’re busy or easily distracted, do you need to focus your actions so you won’t lose steam?

When I designed my year-long MOMENTUM coaching program, it was to avoid the “quick-hit” syndrome. Right now, I’m in a program with this same format and LOVE IT. Some weeks, the assignments are exactly what I need to move forward and – bam – they get done. Plus I get feedback. If I’m too busy, I keep the lesson for later. Always, the work is at the forefront of my mind so it gets DONE. Oh, and did I mention it’s fun?!

Guidance. Focus. Motivation. Consistent Action.. Ahhhhhhhh!

But….if you’re still on the fence about MOMENTUM, here’s a tempting little gift:

Enjoy a FREE sample of one of the MOMENTUM lessons: It’s a taste of what you can expect each week. But in the real course, each lesson comes served with your own private Facebook group, constructive feedback, Connection Calls, goodies, incentives…and more.

Oooohhh, it’s gonna be good!

Figure out how you learn best, and what you really need–practically and psychologically–to achieve your goals. Maybe the quick-hits that haven’t been working mean you need to shake things up?

Like this? There’s more where that came from! Check out MOMENTUM right here.

Image Credit via Flickr

Love or Lust? Decide.

Blog-Are-you-in-love-with-your-businessEntrepreneurship…business ownership….freelancing….author or speaker….whatever you call your profession, the bottom line is that you work for yourself.

You are responsible for building your business, marketing it, talking it up, making connections, reconciling the books and most of all, finding work that pays.

It can be hard and joyous.

It can be stressful and freeing.

It can be lonely and empowering.

There is a lot of work to be done and no one else to do it but you. Or, I should say, no one else is responsible for driving it but you.

It takes a certain amount of moxie and momentum to wake up every morning and make your work happen.

So right now, decide:

Are you in lust or are you in love with your business?

Lust is chasing the cute bad boy (or gal) in the leather jacket because he looks cool. You know nothing about him but you dive in headfirst because you think this will be a helluva lot of fun.

Lust is surface. Lust runs hot and cold. Lust is about short bursts of passion and effort. Lust is moody. Lust drains you. Lust bails when things get too messy or hard.

Kind of like starting a business because you think it looks “really fun” and you don’t have any desire to put the time, effort and work needed into it. Or maybe you’ll just work on your business “when you have time,” like you do with your favorite hobbies.

It’s spending all your time building a cool, hip website rather than worrying about the bottom line. It’s randomly advertising or marketing without a sound plan in place. It’s taking get-rich-quick courses to shortcut the work, or failing to budget or plan. It’s designing pretty business cards for months rather than getting out there and hustling for paid work.

Love, on the other hand, is getting to know another person for who they really are, and embracing their soul. You know there will be good days and bad days and you learn how to work together as one solid unit–even in moments when you might want to rip their eyes out. You are committed to every delightful, frustrating, cherished and annoying moment of it.

Kind of like starting a business with eyes wide open, knowing some days you’ll be successful and others you will fall on your face, but always keeping your larger vision in mind. You learn from your mistakes. You study. You soak up knowledge. All in an effort to improve. It’s hard work but you stay steadfast and don’t lose momentum because you are “all in.”

Love is deep. Love is honest, stable and healthy. Love is constant and committed energy and motion. Love fuels you.

I’m not saying your have to run your business for the rest of your life or even that you should continue on if you no longer find joy in it. On the contrary, please, if this is where you are, give it up immediately and do something else that lights you up inside.

What I am saying is don’t confuse lust and love. Lust is a fling. Love is a commitment. (TWEET THIS!)

Love is not easy. Love has bad days. But love is a commitment to forward movement. To momentum. To growth.Love is a sweet promise into which you put your whole heart, come what may, because you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Right now, decide. Are you in love or in lust with your business? And then act accordingly.

Photo credit: Nathan Walker via Unsplash

Craving more entrepreneurial advice and inspiration? Check out my Juicy Guide to Entrepreneurship: How to Energize Your Brand and Squeeze More Soul into Your Business, on sale on Amazon right now for just $0.99!

What Are Your Profound Epiphanies?

10.27.15RoadNotTaken (blog)

Life is full of what I like to call profound epiphanies. They sneak up on you when you’re in the shower, driving along belting out show tunes in your car, or perhaps while unplugged and enjoying the ocean crashing at your feet.

These epiphanies, I find, often occur when you’re thinking about how your life would have turned out in a parallel universe. If you’d made that choice. If you had not said yes to that date. What are your proverbial forks in the road? For me, the big ones are the many different jobs I’ve had and cities I’ve lived in, breaking off my first engagement and moving to California in 1999. The course of my life and career changed dramatically as a result of all these crucial decisions. And I am blessed and better for it all.

Are you grateful in your life for the road not taken? Perhaps there was a job you really, really wanted that fell through…and it let you to instead work for the company that launched your career. Or you started a business that ended in a bloody epic fail…and you learned all the things not to do so that your next venture was a smashing success.

We all know the trite saying that we learn from our mistakes. I would argue that, really and truly, there are no mistakes. Sure, there are things we regret. Like dating that bad boy who broke our heart, becoming business partners with someone we barely knew, or spending a ridiculous amount of money on a marketing campaign that went no where fast.

But every bad decision, toxic relationship or questionable call moves you further through the book of your life. And you can’t get to Chapter 100 without the other 99 coming first. It would be a different book. You’d be a different person.

What opportunities would you have missed? What joys might you never have known? What careers would you never have explored?

When thinking about your past mistakes and regrets, be gentle with yourself and observe them with gratitude. (Tweet this!)

It’s easy to say, “Well, my life would be a cakewalk if I had only (FILL IN THE BLANK.” But you didn’t. You’re here, now. And look around at what you have. Had all those events not occurred, you would not be the person you are now. Richer. Fuller. Smarter.

I invite you to flip your thinking on your would-have’s and should have’s. What are you grateful you learned? Who or what is wonderful in your life of business now as a result of those decisions? My older brother once told me, during a very bad relationship in my life, that every act or decision is simply a brick and it’s easy to say, “Heck, this is just a brick. I can live with this.” But eventually all those bricks make a wall. And you wonder how the heck you got here. While he meant it in the negative sense of that particular instance, I challenge you to look at it positively…not as a wall, but a road. A road that led you to the person you are now. The person you would never be had those things not happened.

What are your big forks in the road when it comes to your career, business or life? What profound epiphanies do they give you? Please share in the Comments below!

Image credit: Cristian Bortes via Flickr

4 Tips to Pricing Your Offerings – and Making Money

09.08.15 Pricing (Blog)

Whether you’re brand new to the professional services game or have been at it a while, I am willing to bet you constantly wrestle with this question:

How much should I charge?

And don’t forget this question’s rambunctious cousins: What is my hourly rate? How much should I mark up? Should I propose this project at a flat rate or on hourly basis?

This question is tricky when you sell “time” or intellectual property and not hard goods with manufacturing costs associated with them. When I first started out consulting, I was lucky enough to have hired people like me before and knew the ballpark going rate. Plus, I knew that I had to price in such a way as to emphasize that I was a consultant, not a contractor. Nuanced distinction but very important in my field: Consultants make recommendations and advise on strategy. Contractors complete tasks they are told to do.

It’s important to remember that pricing is a branding decision (Tweet this!)

Who is the ideal client you want to attract and how do you want to be perceived? Price too high and you may be out of reach of your target clientele. Price too low and people may think your work has no value.

We’ve all made pricing mistakes. I took a bath on a nightmare project early on in my business when I neglected to add in hours on for my time, assuming that my mark-up on my subcontractors would cover me. It did not. While I made all my subcontractors a hefty sum on that almost year-long engagement, it’s too embarrassing to admit to you what I netted out from all that work and heartache. After we finally walked away, I licked my wounds and learned a valuable lesson to always, always factor in my hours as a separate line item to subcontractor markups.

This was such a popular question from my audience that I sought out the advice of the woman who changed the way I look at pricing: Audrey Godwin.

Audrey Godwin is the CEO and Founder of The Godwin Group. She coaches women business owners and transforms them into financially savvy CEO’s. Audrey is passionate about helping women entrepreneurs fund a good salary, provide for their families and create a strong retirement plan.

Here are four powerful tips on how to price your products or services:

  1. First, Determine Your Costs: Regardless of your service or product, you must know what it costs you to make, deliver or generate your revenue. These can be hard costs, such as raw materials, or overhead costs, such as rent. But what if you don’t have a product? Then your cost is labor. What’s the cost of your labor? If your company is not set up as a corporation from which you draw a salary, you may have no idea how to determine the cost of your time,” says Audrey. One way she advises you to back into the number is to determine the salary you want each year. “There are 2080 working hours in a year, so let’s say your goal is $100,000 in take-home salary,” says Audrey. “This equates to roughly $50 in labor cost.” Your goal should be to charge clients at least this much for their hours (with a markup to cover taxes, overhead, and other business costs), but also to assess if a given activity is worth $50 of your time.
  2. Articulate Your Brand, Target Market and Value: As mentioned, pricing is a brand decision. Are you a commodity or a luxury? You need to price accordingly so it’s clear. Who is the audience? What is your differentiator, to allow for a premium price? Do you simply offer DIY information or do you work with people to actually get things done? For what is your target market willing to pay a premium? This is where fleshing out your brand strategy is vital to more than just your marketing efforts.
  3. Determine Your Markup and Final Price: How do you choose your markup percentage? Look at the industry and see what the percentage is for that industry. Talk to others who have been at this a while and find out what they charge. Check out competitors and see if they bill hourly or flat-rate by project. And consider the company culture you are building: are you building a full-time staff or going it alone? Audrey says, “If you are taking salary as part of your expenses, then 10% to the bottom line is not a bad thing. But as a solopreneur, remember you are paying market rates to your subcontractors rather than paying 1/3 of that cost in wages and benefits if they were employees.” How much money do you personally want to make? If you’re using subcontractors, they will eat into the gross profit so will you really net a good profit on the deal­–which is what I didn’t factor in for that nightmare client referenced above. Assess whether it would it be better for your pricing model and net profit to get an employee or temporary help.
  4. Be Careful about Discounting to Attract New Clients: Make sure you’re discounting to the right People that will only buy with a discount are not necessarily ideal clients. Better to use discounts on the backend, Audrey says. “Incent them for paying faster versus just to get new clients. When you discount to get them in the door, you end up doing work you hate for people you can’t stand.”

Want more good stuff from Audrey? Sign up for her FREE 50 minute Financially Savvy CEO Strategy Session. She’ll work wonders with you, promise.

Are you struggling with pricing or have you found a happy place? Tweet me or leave a post on the Red Slice Facebook page!

Two powerful lessons for every new entrepreneur

09.01.15 Entrepreneur (Blog)

A wise mentor sits with a serene smile, staring into the bright eyes of the eager protégée. She wraps her arm around the fresh young person and whispers, “Everything is going to be alright. Here’s all you really need to know…”

I’m going to bet that was not your experience when embarking on entrepreneurship or self-employment. If you’re like me, it felt more like getting shoved into a deep ocean. Some days, the current drifts you to new islands and opportunities. Other days, you flail in the choppy waves, praying for a lifeline. One day, the seas are calm and effortless. The next day, the waves pound you over and over again into the hard sand.

After leaving the safe harbor of a successful corporate life in 2008, I was fortunate enough to find resources and mentors who helped me along my journey. Some drifted in and out like a passing life raft, right when I needed them most. Others joined me on my journey and never left my side: mentors and collaborators whom I treasure for their insights.

These amazing humans – and the many years I’ve now been out on my own – have taught me so much. And by “so much,” I mean answering questions I never knew I should have (“What the heck is “use tax?”) and preparing me for situations I could have never seen coming even with high-powered binoculars (a clear contract doesn’t protect you from a nightmare client who signs it without reading it). It doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take. Until you’re in it, there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know.

And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t do it!

Here are two of the biggest lessons from my entrepreneurial experience thus far. Please note: I have a long way to go and a whole lot more to learn.

But when you get so far down a certain trail, it’s your duty and responsibility to reach your hand back and shepherd those traveling with you. Leave no man or woman behind, I say. (Tweet this!)

Lesson #1: Opportunity favors those who prepare.

While I had a very successful corporate marketing career, I dreamed of doing my own thing and enjoying more flexibility to pursue other passions, like writing and acting. Red Slice started as a personal blog full of whimsical wine, film and cultural musings. It then became a business website I would tinker with on the side as I dreamed, “If I worked for myself, how would I position my services? What message would I want to convey? What brand would I build?” In 2008, when the writing was on the wall and my last tech company laid off the marketing department in prep for a sale, opportunity knocked­–and I was ready. I flipped the switch on that hidden website and Red Slice as a brand consultancy was born.

Lesson #2: Don’t worry about the how so much as the what and why. The how will find you (or you will find it) when the time is right. Just take action and keep moving forward.

The road was not always easy. Maybe you can relate?! I am often still unsure of what the hell I’m doing. But amazingly enough, once you start down the path to what you want and put it out there, all of the sudden an advisor, article, connection or opportunity will magically appear right when you need it most.

  • When I craved more strategy work and less tactical project work and didn’t know how to free up my time to go after it, a friend offered her coaching services to me, leading to my signature offerings still popular today.
  • When I needed a new accountant, a successful entrepreneur recommended hers – and I’ve happily been with that firm ever since.
  • When I desperately needed a fresh creative writer for my client work, a colleague launched a website that week with the most brilliant copy I’d ever read and I immediately contacted the writer she hired, which led to not one, but two fruitful writing partnerships that are the cornerstone of my work.
  • When a publishing agent got interested in my book idea and asked to see a “formal proposal” I had no idea what that was but said “Sure, I’ll send you one!” As if on cue, my good friend told me she happened to enroll in a proposal writing class starting the very next week so I jumped in and joined her.
  • When I was truly overwhelmed by my work and life right after my brain injury, I decided to just take it day by day and start small, by sponsoring a marketing event. At that event, I happened to meet a “stress coach” and started working with her within the month to get myself unstuck and moving forward.
  • When I decided to self-publish my second book and had no idea where to begin, I just started writing it and figured it would all work out. I then remembered a virtual assistant who I had interviewed the year before to help with marketing my first book. She is now my self-publishing angel and handles everything for me.

There are so many more examples I could give you. Somehow, someway, the right people just enter your life at just the right time. Or you read an article that tells you about the exact solution to the challenge you are facing.

Got your own words of wisdom? Please share with us on the Facebook page or Tweet me!

How to Use a Press Release

1.20.15 press release (blog)

Ah, the poor press release. It’s been abused, distorted, asked to work miracles and is one of the biggest marketing and brand awareness misconceptions I’ve ever encountered in my 20+ year career.

Most business owners (and frankly, large company CEO’s) just don’t understand what a press release can – and cannot – do for your business and how to use it most effectively. Some people think everything they do is newsworthy; others treat it like a sales page or pump one out every week. Still others think you can produce one press release and – BAM! You’re on the cover of Fast Company.

Never fear. Help is on the way….

Use a press release the RIGHT way if you actually want press! (Tweet this!)

Nicole Francois is a marketing communication expert and runs MarketWell, an agency focused on health-related business.   She and I collaborate often and I love her practical, tough-love approach to getting press exposure. She even served as publicist for my memoir, Rebooting My Brain. Nicole majored in Journalism, produced news for major television networks and cut her teeth on press releases.  While the bulk of Nicole’s career has been focused on marketing, Nicole pulls from her six years of journalistic experience almost everyday.

I asked Nicole to weigh in on the ever-popular press release and how it really works for your business.

RS: OK, give us the straight scoop: what is a press release and how is it actually used or seen by the media?

NF: A press release can be many different things.  That stated it should always be a fact-based, and fact-focused document that is written in terms the media understands.  That means typically not leading with a quote from your CEO (unless he just media bombed at a women in tech conference, but I digress) but instead, start with a compelling ‘lead’ with the important components like: Who? What? When? Why? Where? How?  At least three of these questions should be answered in your first two sentences — and those sentences should be concise and easy to read. And if you expect to be taken seriously you must use AP-Style guidelines.

The media uses press releases to gather information.  About 90% of the releases I received as a journalist were trashed (and PR people considered me a nice / warm contact). If there is interest, however, the media will consider how it might use the information.  If the media decides to pursue the information put forth in the release you or your media contact will likely hear from them — that’s when we ask follow up questions to vet the ‘news’ in the release and find out if the information fits our angles.  Then, the reporter/media host/editor usually has some options:

  • Follow up immediately and cover the story
  • Take the story idea to the editorial meeting where a bunch of journalists weight in on its value and a decision for coverage is rendered
  • Shrink the story into a quick write-up or reader (for broadcast)
  • Turn it down
  • Or – rarely – enlarge the story with the information offered because it’s so rich it deserves a lot of journalistic research and developed story-telling.  These coveted stories are held for big editions, or ratings period broadcast.

What journalists hate most of all is the advertising -release.  This, in our eyes, lowers your credibility and in journalism, credibility is everything.  So if you hammer a news department with faux-news, wannabe ad releases you, your business, and all of your clients are pretty much dirt.

While follow-up is important, we also hate publicist-types who keep trying once we’ve given a firm ‘no’.  We know if you’ve undermined us and you might even get away with it once or twice, but keep it up and you’ll be a target for vengeance.

RS: What won’t a press release do for you or your business?

NF: It won’t get you a free ad, it won’t get your domain or phone number automatically listed.  It will definitely not make you famous, unless it’s for all the wrong reasons.  It won’t get you a million new customers.  It won’t earn you media attention just because it’s a press release.  It might help your SEO standing — but be very careful with this side of press releases.  It will most likely make your mama proud.

RS: What should a business owner do before sending that next press release?

NF: Ask these 3 questions first and ensure the answer is “yes” before you hit SEND:

  • Is this information timely and relevant to the community-at-large?
  • Have I emphasized facts that are important to the targeted media’s audience?
  • Are their visual opportunities for coverage that I have pointed out in this release?

Image Credit: Surreal Name Given via Flickr

The Not-So-Secret to Brand Success

10.28 secret to brand marketing (blog)

There are no magical answers.

A few posts have recently emerged around this theme and when I start seeing patterns, it’s good to pay attention.

Too often, entrepreneurs, solo business owners – and yes, even large company CEO’s – think there is some magical cure to flagging sales, lack of brand awareness, or no clients knocking on the door. And so, they believe the claims like:

“Join my course and you will absolutely achieve six-figure success and prosperity!”
“Issue press releases every week and you will definitely get featured in The Wall Street Journa!l”
 “If you place one ad on my site, you will increase sales without lifting a finger!”
And often it turns out these courses, techniques, or masterminds are just fluff.
I’ve had enough. Haven’t you?

There are millions out there who will pay for a quick fix, an easy answer, a way to earn money without putting in the work. They claim it should be easy. Yes, it doesn’t always have to be rocket science, but when was the last time you saw someone achieve meteoric success without any real value, smarts, hard work or talent? I should clarify: lasting success because reality stars who are famous for being famous won’t (I hope) be here for long.

If you want to be a reality star, by all means, go ahead. Godspeed. I on the other hand prefer to use marketing for good rather than evil. I prefer to create marketing that delights, informs and tells the truth. I’d prefer to build a business based on real honest to God value for someone and if I do that for less people rather than duping millions, perhaps I’ll sleep better at night, knowing I created something real, good and valuable in the world.

Yes, your business should bring your joy. Yes, you shouldn’t have to slog if things don’t feel right. I’m all about only doing the marketing activities you enjoy (if they reach your target audience) or at least finding a way to make them enjoyable.

But I’m tired of the modern day snake oil salesmen, aren’t you? Tired of hyperbolic claims, tired of people charging thousands for something that won’t bring real value to a business. Of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And you can only find value if you do the work someone ifsteaching you.

But I guess that’s my point. The not-so-secret to brand success? DO. THE. WORK.

Bring the value. Be authentic, be vulnerable, be unique but the most successful folks I know are finding joy in their business while also providing real value for their clients and customers.

Marketing is not about lying to people. It can be used for good rather than evil (Tweet this!)

Image credit to Jerry Swiatek via Flickr

7 Strategies To Nurture Your Budding Twitter Account

10.24.14 Grow-your-twitter-account (blog)

I’m a huge Twitter fan. I love the convenience and conciseness of it, plus I find it a personal challenge to get my point across in 140 characters or less. You might be on Twitter but are not sure how to get a handle on what can often seem like the Wild Wild West. Enjoy today’s guest post from Logan Strain as he serves up 7 juicy tips for nurturing your Twitter account with a little TLC.

With over a quarter billion active users, Twitter is one of the most powerful social networks you can use to build your company’s brand and drive traffic to your site. But with all the tweets and new accounts being created every day, how do you gain a foothold in this very noisy space? It can be intimidating starting with zero tweets and zero followers when other accounts in your niche might already have hundreds of thousands of followers.

No account becomes a valuable social media asset overnight. If you are taking the very first step towards establishing a presence on Twitter, here’s some advice to help you kick start your efforts.

1) Use Tweetdeck

Using the web or mobile client might be fine if you’re a casual tweeter, but pros like you need to use something more powerful like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Tweetdeck is fantastic because it’s a tool created by Twitter to help power users get the most out of their social network. You can schedule tweets, keep track of multiple feeds simultaneously, and manage multiple accounts. You can log in on the web, or (if you’re a Chrome user), you can use the handy Chrome app.

2) Follow (A Lot)

You can’t get if you don’t give. So if you want a flood of followers and you don’t have a strong brand name yet? You better start following people. While you shouldn’t be completely indiscriminate, clicking “Follow” every single time it pops up on your screen, it’s a good idea to start off with a ton of followed accounts. Some of the most successful tweeters literally follow tens of thousands of accounts.

Find all the biggest brands, thought leaders, and other personalities in your space and follow them all. Then check out who those big names are following, then follow lots of them too. When someone follows you, favorites a tweet, or retweets you, reward them with a follow. When you are actively following people, tweeters take notice, and you start earning followers in return.

3) Retweet And Favorite (A Lot)

Retweeting (posting other people’s tweets on your own timeline) and favoriting (marking tweets as your personal faves), are also part of giving. Retweeting is an easy way to add content to your feed with just a single click, but it also acts a compliment. It says “This tweet is so good, I want to share it with my followers too.” That’s a good way to endear yourself to bigger Twitter accounts and their followers.

Favoriting isn’t as strong, since it doesn’t add the content to your feed, but it still gives a hat tip to the tweeter. Feel free to favorite as fast as your mouse can click (or finger can tap) since it increases the number of times people see your name but costs you nothing.

4) Schedule Tweets A Week In Advance

In order to save time and be consistent, setup about a week’s worth of tweets in advance. This not only saves you time by doing all of your tweeting at once, it ensures that you schedule tweets for maximum impact.

What should you tweet about? You can:

When you should tweet?

Some studies suggest that the best time to tweet is between 9AM and 3PM, since that’s when people are most likely to check their feeds. Once you really start to build your following, however, you can more easily find when your best tweeting time will be with the online tool Brand Mentions. This is another free service that can tell you when your feed sees the most activity. Armed with this knowledge, you can schedule your most valuable tweets during the periods that you see the most engagement.

5) Be Hashtag Smart

Of course, you can’t simply tweet to nobody when you’re starting out. Twitter is like joining a giant cocktail party, and adding hashtags is how you join the conversation. People set up special feeds and alerts for their favorite hashtags, and can see when anybody (whether it’s a budding Twitter account or one with a million followers) is making a contribution. So it’s essential to add relevant hashtags to every single tweet you make.

But how do you find relevant hashtags? There are two main ways: either by checking out what kind of hashtags similar twitter accounts are using, or by using some simple and free online tools. One of the best ones is the related hashtags tool from Hastigify.me. Simply enter any hashtag, and you can find ones closely associated with it.

For example, if you are building a Twitter account for a hair care product, you can just check the hashtag #haircare. From there, you’ll see that people who use that hashtag also use #naturalhair, #beauty, and #bbloggers (the hashtag that connects beauty bloggers.) Now you’ll have several more hashtags you can add to your posts, and more ways you can be discovered.

6) Private Message People Who Follow You

If someone follows you, they’re probably following a lot of people. So how do you make an impression? Besides consistently offering interesting content, you could also simply send a private message through Twitter to your new follower thanking them. Since so few accounts do this you’ll stick out a bit more when they see you pop up in their feed, which increases the chances that they’ll engage with your content.

7) Connect Your Twitter Account To Your Other Properties

No social media account is an island. Provide a link to your Twitter account on your blog, your email signature, and even your other social media accounts. You want to give people as many opportunities as possible to discover your account.

Tweet Smart

That might sound like a lot of work in order get your brand’s account up and running. But the truth is that you don’t have to be a Twitter addict in order to build up an account and start gaining attention and traffic from this massive social network. Just 10-20 minutes every working day is enough to take you to zero followers to someone who is part of the conversation. Like anything in life, all it takes is a little persistence.

About the Author: Logan Strain is a writer for Crimewire, father, and podcast addict. When he’s not browsing reddit, playing with his daughter, or binge-watching Netflix, he’s creating viral web content.

Raise the bar

10.21 raise the bar (blog)

It’s not about competing. It’s about ensuring there is no substitute for doing what you do.

Instead of “That’s not our policy” try “Here are some options for you.

Instead of “We can’t help you” try “Here’s a few referrals for you so you can make things happen. I’m happy to make an introduction

Instead of “These are all the reasons you didn’t get what you wanted” try “I am so sorry you are disappointed and I should have done better. How can I make it right?

Instead of “I don’t accept comments on my blog because I only care about pushing out my ideas not how you feel about them” how about “Got feedback? Ping me on Twitter. Or Facebook or…

Instead of “Here’s why your negative feedback is wrong or our actions are justified” how about “Wow! Thank you for taking the time to show us how we can do better. There must be others who feel like you do who’ve never said anything.

If you want to create something irresistible, start with listening to what people really desire.

Raise the bar by delighting people in unexpected ways. (Tweet this!)

That’s how you raise the bar. That’s how you stand out. That’s how you create something you can be proud of.

What is one example of how you’ve raised the bar for your customers or clients? Please share in the Comments below!

Photo Credit: Will Clayton via Flickr